Self-sabotage is a tricky concept. You may feel like you’re doing absolutely everything in your power to improve your life and accomplish your goals, but it’s just not happening. There’s no question that being in this situation is frustrating, and if this sounds familiar, chances are you’re searching for answers.
While it’s probably not fun to hear that you’re likely dealing with a self-sabotage situation, admitting it to yourself is a great first step toward making a change. Wondering if you’re sabotaging yourself without knowing it? Here are telltale six signs to watch out for—plus, how to stop self-sabotaging.
1. You’re not getting enough sleep
Some people claim to function well on little sleep, but the vast majority of us don’t. So if you’re not getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night and wondering why you’re not moving the needle on certain things you want to get done, examine your sleep habits.
How to know if your sleep habits are problematic: Lack of sleep makes us fuzzy and irritable, and people who don’t get enough sleep are more prone to anxiety and depression. Plus, it’s hard to concentrate when you aren’t well-rested. Not making the time to get enough sleep is a form of self-sabotage, so if this sounds familiar—and you're experiencing anxiety and irritability on a regular basis—it could be leading to self-sabotage.
What do if you're not getting enough sleep: Work on improving your sleep hygiene and carve out more time for sleep. When you're well-rested, you may find that you function better and don't engage in self-sabotage as often.
2. You give in to imposter syndrome
Here’s a little secret you should know about: The vast majority of us deal with imposter syndrome from time to time. If you haven’t heard of it, imposter syndrome is essentially exactly what it sounds like: You believe you’re an imposter in some aspect of your life — although it usually applies to professional situations — and that it’s only a matter of time before everyone figures out how “bad” you really are at whatever you do.
How to know if your imposter syndrome is a problem: If you find that your feelings of imposter syndrome are hard to shake and you constantly let these feelings "win" — meaning you're holding yourself back in certain aspects of your life — your imposter syndrome could be a form of self-sabotaging thoughts that are holding you back.
What to do if you're letting your imposter syndrome win: Consider talking to a friend or family member you trust, or a mental health expert who can help you work through it.
3. You say yes to everything
Saying yes and embracing life is important. But sometimes, saying yes can be a form of self-sabotage.
When saying yes becomes a problem: If you’re someone who tends to say yes to everything even if you’re not interested or don’t have time, it’s important to note that this is a key area of self-sabotage. When you constantly say yes, you end up over-scheduling yourself and not making time to unwind or pay attention to your own wants and needs.
What to do about saying "yes" to often: The next time someone invites you somewhere or asks you to do something, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I doing this because I want to, or because I feel like I should?
- If this is a work situation, do I actually have time for this, or will I have to work late?
- Is this something I feel excitement about, or something that elicits a feeling of dread?
- It can be easy to say yes to something that’s far in the future, but will l still want to do this on the day it actually comes up?
By asking yourself these questions, you can understand yourself better and learn when to say no.
Always saying yes can be a form of self-sabotage
4. You procrastinate
Studies show that chronic procrastination affects 15-20% of adults. So while procrastination is common, it can be a huge form of self-sabotage.
When procrastination becomes a problem: Everyone procrastinates from time to time. But if procrastination is stopping you from getting important tasks done, whether at work or at home, it could be problematic.
What to do about procrastination: If you know you tend to procrastinate, try certain tactics that can help, like doing the hardest task on your to-do list first (this can be very motivating for some people), or knocking off a few easy tasks first (other people find this tactic more effective). You can also try eliminating forms of distraction, like social media, or locking your phone away when you’re working on important tasks that you can’t procrastinate on.
5. You don’t prioritize your physical health
Life gets busy, and skipping a few days of exercise or skimping on the veggies and indulging in comfort eating from time to time is normal.
How to know if not prioritizing your physical health is a problem: If you find that everything comes before your physical health — work, your family, chores, the list goes on — you may be engaging in a form of self-sabotage. After all, if you don’t have your physical health, it’s hard to chase your goals and dreams.
How to make your physical health a priority: Try scheduling it. Put physical health appointments, from exercise to meal prepping to seeing your doctors, on your calendar. That way, you'll always know you're making time for your physical health.
6. You’re not consistent
While spontaneity is fun and important from time to time, when you’re trying to achieve a goal or build a new habit, consistency is key.
How to know if your lack of consistency is a problem: If you’re not consistent with certain habits and to-dos, this can be a form of self-sabotage. For example, it’s hard to build a habit around exercise if you only exercise when you feel like it … and most people who don’t have a regular workout habit will tell you that they never feel like exercising. So if you commit to exercising but only do it once a week, it's not going to stick.
How to get more consistent: If you want to get more consistent with your habits, make sure they come first. For example, if you want to build up a habit of meditation, schedule it and do it every single day, even if it's just for a few minutes.
If any of these signs sound familiar, the good news is that there’s a lot you can do to stop a pattern of self-sabotage — so get started today.Next, here are 100 affirmations to get your week off to a great start.